Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Abatai
ABATAI 阿巴泰, July 27, 1589–1646, May 10, member of the Imperial Family, was the seventh son of T'ai-tsu (Nurhaci). Although he took part in the expedition against the Weji tribe in 1611 and against the Jarut tribe of Mongols in 1623, he was thirty-eight sui before he was made a beile at the accession in 1626 of his younger brother, later known as T'ai-tsung (see under Abahai). Early in 1638 he refused to attend the reception prepared for a Mongol chieftain on the ground that he himself had not been granted appropriate rank. His constant grumbling led others to demand his punishment, but T'ai-tsung contented himself with imposing a fine of four suits of armor and twelve saddled horses. In 1629, while on a campaign into China through Mongolia, he deserted his colleague, Haoge [q. v.], at a critical moment in defiance of an agreement and was sentenced to dismissal, but was again pardoned by T'ai-tsung. He fought actively during the winter of this year and the following spring, but was involved in the retreat which lost Yung-p'ing and other cities to the Chinese (see under Amin). On the establishment in 1631 of the six ministries, he was put in charge of the Board of Works. He fought again at the siege of Ta-ling-ho, but was reprimanded by T'ai-tsung in 1633 for incompetence in military operations. After another year of warfare he became (1635) the object of an imperial lecture on the value of daily exercise and the dangers of a life of pleasure. During the next year (1636) he, together with Ajige [q. v.], fought fifty-six battles and won an equal number of victories.
Having received in 1636 the title of Jao-yü 饒餘 beile, he took part in the Manchu military operations and was apparently co-operative until 1641 when he was again deprived of rank for leaving the field at the siege of Chin-chou. The sentence was commuted to the payment of a fine of 2,000 taels silver. Within a few months he contributed to the defeat of the Chinese general, Hung Ch'êng-ch'ou [q. v.], and the capture of Chin-chou. In 1642 he was appointed commander-in-chief of an expedition into China, with the title of Fêng-ming Ta Chiang-chün 奉命大將軍. What followed was an outstanding feat of warfare—a march from the Great Wall south through Chihli and Shantung in sixty days (November 27, 1642–January 27, 1643). He ravaged, at the same time, portions of Kiangsu. He is reported to have taken ninety-four towns and cities, some 360,000 prisoners, and booty amounting to 12,000 taels gold and 2,200,000 taels silver. Although the Manchus again retired to the north of the Wall, this invasion disclosed the helpless condition of China and paved the way for the collapse which began two years later. In 1644 Abatai was made Chün-wang 郡王, a prince of the second degree. In the following year he commanded troops in Shantung, but died early in 1646, a few months after he returned to Peking. He was succeeded by his fourth son, Yolo [q. v.] who was made a prince of the first degree in 1657. In 1662 Abatai was given posthumously the rank of a prince of the first degree and nine years later was canonized as Min 敏. His third son, Bolo [q. v.], was a distinguished general, and his second son, Bohoto 博和託 (posthumous name 温良, d. 1648), was a prince of the fourth degree. Bohoto's son, Jangtai [q. v.] was also a great general.
[1/223/3b; 2/2/41b; 3/首8/3a; 34/129/1a; Backhouse and Bland, Annals and Memoirs of the Court of Peking, pp. 155–56.]
George A. Kennedy